What makes a student successful? Is it natural ability or well-developed study skills? The first place to begin answering this question is to define success. Merriam-Webster defines success as "the correct or desired result of an attempt" . Therefore, success does not mean a straight-A student. Success is a measure of whether or not your attained your personal goal. The standard you create for yourself may not necessarily be explicit in the letter grade you obtain.
While attending college for my bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, I met three types of students. They all had the same definition of success: they wanted to complete the coursework and be awarded their degree. Each student's journey to success was a little different:
The Late Bloomer: didn't push themselves in high school but became more engaged in coursework once they entered college.
The Overcomer: had a learning disability but didn't let that limit their passion.
The High Achiever: always excelled in academics and continued to do so in college.
I graduated alongside all three of these students, and each of our academic journeys varied greatly. Some of us graduated with honors, some of us got a few C's, but ultimately we were successful because we graduated. Now, academic success is not exclusive from your actual academic efforts. All three of these students had to work hard in their pursuit of success, but that success was not solely dependent on the letter grade they obtained. Letter grades are important, since they couldn't have graduated if they were below college expectations, but they didn't all need A's either. So what did they need?
Grit is not letting obstacles get in your way. You become creative and dig deep to find ways to be successful despite challenges. This is what makes you try a new study method after failing a test.
Discipline is the ability to focus your motivation and grit on a specific objective. You know what you want and what you need to do to get there. This is what makes you ensure you have the foundational pieces to achieve your goal.
Work on these behaviors if you want to become a successful student. Find you motivation, and develop your grit and discipline. If you focus on that there is nothing to stop your from reaching your goals.
 Merriam-Webster. Web. Accessed 22 Aug 2016
On New Year's Eve, many people have a list of goals they want to accomplish throughout the new year. The First Day of School offers students the same opportunity. Notebooks are empty, teams and groups need members, and there are new people to meet. How do you even begin to distill down all of the possibilities into an achievable list of goals?
It is commonly recommended to have no more than three to five yearly goals. It's natural to want to create a long list of goals, but in reality, you only have time for a few. So don't set yourself up for failure! Instead, invest the time into well-defining a few goals and continue to improve from there.
This doesn't seem entirely helpful. You may be thinking, "That just says what I want, but not what I need to do everyday to get there." That's an accurate observation. A goal is the end result, it doesn't talk about the journey. To plan the journey, you need to break that goal into smaller pieces. Anna Akana's video, "How to Level Up Your Productivity," gives some advice on how to achieve your goals. She explains that defining your goals and breaking them into steps is the easy part. The hard part is staying accountable to the plan. Akana recommends making to-do lists with only tasks that help you reach your goal, creating a "not-to-do list," and creating a daily routine . So what would this look like with our example above?
Goals are a great way to refine our focus on what's really important. Give it a try! Think of one or two academic and personal goals and try to reach them by the end of the school year. You never know what you may accomplish!
 Akana, Anna. "How to Level Up Your Productivity." Online video clip. You Tube. 10 Mar 2016. Web. 17 Aug 2016.
Have you ever wondered what causes your favorite instrument to create sound? The answer is rooted in the physics of waves. There are many different types of waves: transverse, longitudinal, and standing. Transverse waves move perpendicular to the direction of the wave, longitudinal waves move parallel to the direction of the wave, and standing waves appear stationary in space.
Basic elements that define a wave are its wavelength, period/frequency, and speed. A wavelength (w) is the distance over which a wave repeats itself. The period (T) is the time required for a single wavelength to pass a defined point. The frequency (f) is inversely related to the period. Finally, speed (v) is the same as if we were referring to the speed of a car: the amount of distance covered over time.
Instruments produce sounds via standing waves. Standing waves are composed of nodes (the point at which the wave appears to have zero displacement) and antinodes (the point at which the wave appears to have maximum displacement). The frequency - otherwise known as a harmonic for standing waves - is determined by the fundamental (first) harmonic. Consider part of the derivation shown below.
So, at your next jam session you can impress your friends with both your musical skills and Physics knowledge.
When morning rolls around an important element to starting the day on the right foot is a cup of coffee. But, did you know that every time you brew a cup of coffee you are essentially performing an extraction experiment? In this case, the extraction process is more specifically referred to as leaching. Leaching is a technique used to isolate a substance of interest from a solid by dissolving it in a liquid.
Coffee grounds (inert solid) contain caffeine molecules (solute). The coffee grounds are submerged in water (solvent) to obtain the caffeine molecules. In water, the coffee grounds are insoluble while the caffeine molecules are soluble. Over time the caffeine molecules dissolve and diffuse into the water. When brewing coffee, a filter captures what remains of the coffee grounds but allows the caffeine and other molecules that have dissolved into the water to pass through.
There was a study conducted to understand how time and water temperature affect the amount of caffeine obtained. The following charts were produced from data produced in the study for Coffea arabica beans:
Notice that the amount of dissolved caffeine in a solution increases over time and increasing temperature. Therefore, if completely disregarding taste, the longer and hotter you brew your coffee the more caffeine you will obtain.
 Nhan, Pham Puoc, and Nguyen Tran Phu. "Effect of Time and Water Temperature on Caffeine Extraction from Coffee". Pakistan Journal of Nutrition. 11. 2. (2012): 100-103. Web.
A popular fundraiser is to guess how much of a certain object are in a container. Often this object is sweet, sweet candy. The person with the closest guess wins the candy-filled container. Increase your odds of winning by making an educated guess! An educated guess is simply an estimate.
Let's say there is a jar filled with jelly beans. How many jelly beans does the jar contain?
First, estimate the size of the jar to determine its volume. You pull out the cell phone in your pocket that you guess is about six inches tall. Using it to estimate the dimensions of the jar, you determine the height is about one-and-a-half cell phones and the diameter is one cell phone. Using the volume of the cylinder you calculate the volume of the jar to be about 254 cubic inches. Using the same logic you intuitively estimate that a jelly bean has a diameter of 0.5 inches and a length of 0.75 inches. Estimating the volume of a jelly bean using a cylinder you find the volume of a single jelly bean to be 0.15 cubic inches.
Then it is a simple matter of dividing the volume of the jar by the volume of a single jelly bean to find that about 1,693 jelly beans could fit in the jar. But what about the gaps between the jelly beans? Great point! Various sources estimate the jar contains 20% air by volume . Use proportions to calculate how many jelly beans would take up 80% of the jar by volume.
How sweet is that? Give this technique a whirl at your next fundraiser. Who knows, your math wizardry may help you walk away with a jar full of jelly beans!
 "How to win a guess the number of jelly beans contest". How Tutorial. WordPress. 18 April 2011. Web. 31 July 2016.
 "How to Win a Jellybean Guessing Contest". Cleverness: Getting Diggy with It. WordPress. 07 March 2007. Web. 31 July 2016.
In the past few days I encountered two teachers who spoke with me about how often students say, "When will I ever use this stuff?" One of the teachers is working on a poster series for her class where she asks those around her how they have used math in their jobs. The other teacher talked about how your math skills can limit you in surprising ways. She said, "Have you ever doubled a recipe? There's a classic example of multiplying fractions." Both are being creative in helping students identify the everday necessity of math.
One of my favorite professors in college was an expert at finding ways to apply math and science to everyday happenings. In our Physics class he would create assignments based on his home life. One time a sprinkler burst spilling water into one of the egress wells of his basement window. The assignment was to determine the force being exerted on the window at different points. For another assignment he hooked his truck to a measurement device and created graphs while doing different things: breaking, accelerating, putting it on cruise. We were supposed to determine what was being done at certain points of time utilizing the concepts we were learning.
It is due to the creativity of these teachers that in the coming week I would like to find quirky ways to discuss math and science topics. Check back on Monday!
Are you left brain or right brain dominant? People attempt to categorize each other into neat categories. Left brain people are considered to be more logical and objective while right brain people are considered to be more creative and artistic. This leads people to assume that those who perform best in science or mathematics are left brain dominant. However, recent research has shown that those who are mathematically gifted have brains that are better able to communicate between hemispheres .
Logic is defined by using a set of principles to interpret or justify a condition. Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original thought to create. Math and science are rooted in theories and proofs. However, those theories and proofs were not always printed in your text book. It took someone thinking about problems and asking questions in a new way that led to discoveries. Creativity is not limited to new ideas but is helpful to look at problems in new ways.
Recently, after painting a TV stand I was putting the doors back on. I was having trouble figuring out what direction the hinges needed to go. My mother-in-law saw my struggle and showed me how to do it. Her time spent sewing had given her a lot of opportunities to understand how pieces fit together. She took the problem and viewed it in a new way. One may not relate sewing to math and science but both require visualizing problems. She took concepts learned in a different setting and applied them in a new way.
You can do the same when you encounter problems, whether on paper or in life. When you run across a new problem find new ways to look at it.
 Singh, Harnam. O' Boyle, Michael W. "Interhemispheric Interaction During Global-Local Processing in Mathematically Gifted Adolescents, Average-Ability Youth, and College Students." Neurophysiology. 2004. Volume 18. Number 2. Pages 371 - 377.
As the end of summer and the beginning of the school year looms around the corner there are a mix of emotions. The freedom of summer lies in stark contrast to what seems to be the prison of a classroom. Why do we think of the classroom as a prison? It is a place where new ideas are brought forth everyday.
Ideas and concepts can change the world. As John Green discusses in his TedTalk, "The Nerd's Guide to Learning Everything Online," a small town was created because of a paper town placed on a map to help map makers detect copyright frauds. He goes on to talk about how he used to dislike learning until he found a community of learners that enjoyed discovering something new. He explains that they pulled him out of his sense of "school is lame" because they were a group of people "[...] who thought that my ironic, oh-so-cool disengagement wasn't clever or funny, but [...] was a simple and unspectacular response to very complicated and compelling problems" .
Learning doesn't have to be boring or uncool. It does seem useless to sit in a classroom to be taught information you "won't use in the real life," but that uselessness is on you. It is your decision to take what you are being taught and apply it. Use what's left of your summer to get geared up to learn. You never know what idea you will uncover that could change your world.
There are two scenarios when one looks back on their high school experience: you either loved or hated math class. Many people will extrapolate from there and say, "I hated math class. I wasn't any good at it, I just don't think that way." People don't really argue with this thought. It almost seems logical. Who hasn't struggled with a math concept over the course of their educational career?
We use math every day. When you are trying to determine if a sale is worthwhile, spacing pictures equally on the wall, or calculating how much longer a trip will last if you are going the speed limit. Now the question becomes, did your distaste for math stop you from figuring those problems out? No. What will keep you from figuring out those problems is your level of math proficiency.
Proficiency is tied to practice, not enjoyment. You become better when you practice. Want to hit a baseball? Practice. When you first started to practice hitting a ball there was a lot of failure. Failure isn't fun. This is where the final piece of the puzzle pops into place. Your desire to learn created persistence. It's that persistence that made you practice even when you hated it.
You use math every day. It's important to have adequate skills so that you can navigate the math problems of every day life. Like when learning to hit a baseball, it is helpful when you have a coach that already knows how to hit a baseball. Same goes for math. If you are having trouble it can help to work with a tutor and keep practicing.